Drivin’ South: Belhaven to Beaufort, NC Double Handed

By Rich

If the spirited run from Tangier Island to Hampton Virginia marked the high water mark for high winds during the journey to Fort Lauderdale, our trip from Belhaven to Beaufort marked the calmest day we encountered. We navigated the Pungo River in a flat calm that was almost not to be believed. Just as with the Albemarle Sound, that was a good thing, as the Pungo is a large, exposed body of water that looked like it could be choppy in a big breeze.

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In general this passage was very easy and came to be very scenic when we entered some of the more narrow, canal-like section of the passage.

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Once we neared Beaufort, however, the character of the passage changed dramatically. Travelers arriving here should be ready to be buzzed by a cloud of speeding center console power boats, to navigate significant shoaling, confusing marks and very strong currents. A particular word of caution for those tying up at the Beaufort Docks: plan to arrive and depart at slack tide. The currents there are so strong that we saw one brand new boat slammed into a docked sport fish when it tried to depart with a running tide, another ram a dock for the same reason, and we heard anecdotally of at least one other incident after we left. I departed our slip a day early than planned (we had two lay days in Beaufort) specifically to anchor just off the docks so that I could leave Beaufort safely at first light during a running current. Other than the scary, dangerous currents around the docks, Beaufort was a terrific stop for us that gave time for provisioning, repairs, and putting Brian on a plane home.

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